American Cancer Society’s Taste of Hope 2016: First Bite

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Hungry Chicagoans will flock to Venue One in the West Loop tomorrow evening for the third annual Taste of Hope, the American Cancer Society’s premier foodie event in Chicago that has raised more than $500,000 over the past three years. We caught up with JLL Senior Managing Director Jeff Liljeberg, event co-chair, and some restaurant participants for a taste of tomorrow’s menu.

Event Co-Chair – JLL’s Jeff Liljeberg

Taste of Hope 2016

Mike Yazbec, Jeff Liljeberg, Carrie Ward and Mark Johnson at last year’s Taste of Hope. Photo credit: Matt Kosterman Photography

How did Taste of Hope get started and what does it mean to you?

I have been on the Chicago board of the American Cancer Society for close to 20 years and the fight against cancer is very important to me. Family and friends have been impacted. This event was conceived four years ago and intended to be our board’s own signature event. We’ve taken ownership of the process and are so proud to see how it has grown.

What has it been like watching this event evolve and receive such tremendous community support?

It has been amazing how much the event has grown in size, money raised and stature in such a short period of time and I continue to get great feedback from the sponsors and attendees that have attended the past year’s events about how much fun and different it is from most fundraisers.

Why should people attend Taste of Hope?

First and foremost, it raises funds and awareness in the fight against cancer. Secondly, it is a very fun, low-key, after-work event that anybody can attend for a great value of $150 per ticket. You have the opportunity to sample 20 of Chicago’s great restaurants along with great drinks, wine (and a fantastic wine pull!) and mingling with friends, colleagues and industry partners.

What’s your favorite ingredient to cook with and why?

Pesto. It makes everything taste more exciting!

Top tip for home chefs?

Marry or live with somebody who is a great cook so you enjoy fine dining without all the hard work that goes into it. That’s my situation!

Sixteen Restaurant Executive Chef Thomas Lents

Taste of Hope 2016
Why is Taste of Hope important to you and how did you get involved?

As a pretty recent cancer survivor myself, Taste of Hope is a great way for me to take my expertise and give back to the continued fight against cancer. I can speak from firsthand knowledge to how difficult it can be and how much the support is needed for continued research and the fantastic doctors and caregivers out there.

What can guests expect to sample from your kitchen?

We are doing a dish that really speaks to autumn. Chestnut soup with celeriac and foie gras. It’s a great dish for the chillier autumn evenings.

What is your favorite dish at Sixteen?

This one’s always tough. I don’t think I have a favorite. I would say the last dish I made is usually my favorite

Favorite Chicago restaurant you’ve tried recently and what did you eat?

I have had a couple of great meals at Monteverde. Sarah and her team do a great job and all of their pastas are amazing.

Favorite ingredient to cook with and why?

Again a tough one. This one really changes through the seasons. Right now I would say game. We are getting some amazing wild game from Scotland that is just a pleasure to work with.

Top tip for home chefs?

Pay a little extra for a nice knife and learn how to sharpen it. It will make all your work easier. Have fun in the kitchen and don’t worry too much about making mistakes, leave that pressure for the professionals!

Sullivan’s Steakhouse’s Janine Bobko

Taste of Hope 2016

Left photo credit: Matt Kosterman Photography

What does Taste of Hope mean to Sullivan’s?

It is so important to our restaurant group to be active participants in our communities. To achieve that goal, we partner with amazing local charities like ACS, whose cause touches such a broad scope of people. We are honored to participate in this meaningful event and so grateful to everyone for coming out.

How did you get involved?

When ACS approached us to participate in Taste of Hope last year, it was a no-brainer. Our restaurant group’s philosophy is F.E.E.D. In addition to literally feeding our guests, this stands for “Far Exceeding Expectations Daily.” It’s something we take to heart every day in the restaurant, and absolutely applies to our charity efforts and community participation, as well.

What can guests expect to sample from your kitchen at the big event?

We will be serving filet mignon sliders, hand-carved on site. Guests can enjoy the prime steak on its own or on a freshly baked pretzel roll with house-made horseradish cream. I recommend going full slider!

What is your favorite dish at Sullivan’s?

One of our most fun, well-known dishes is our Philly cheesesteak egg rolls. Think filet mignon and melted cheese all cozy inside an egg roll wrapper and drizzled with house-made honey mustard and sweet chili sauce. They are the reason my pants don’t fit anymore, but they are so worth it!

Top tip for home chefs?

I come from a large Italian family and was brought up with many amazing cooks around me serving big family dinners. So, I don’t enjoy cooking just for myself – it’s boring! My advice—cook large portions and entertain! Food always tastes better when surrounded by family and friends. Huge lasagnas are definitely my go-to!

More information about Taste of Hope here.

Hope to see you tomorrow!